Sport has long been important in the UK. The public school system placed particular emphasis on sporting endeavour.
Golf was invented in Scotland, cricket and tennis in England. Fives and squash were started at public schools, as was Rugby Football (at Rugby School).
Many sports had their first official rules laid down in the UK. For example, the rules of modern boxing were drawn up by the Marquess of Queensbury.
The UK's most popular sport is football. Britain won the World Cup in 1966. The second major winter game is rugby (in two forms: league and union). England won the Rugby World Cup in Sydney in 2003.
Cricket is the major summer sport and, like football, has been adopted around the world. In particular it has been popular in the countries of the former British Empire, for example, Australia, India, South Africa and the West Indies.
Horse racing and show jumping are major spectator sports. Racing is a favourite pastime with the Queen and members of the royal family while Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, has represented the UK in show jumping at the Olympics.
Athletics, because of indoor facilities, is now an all-year-round sport. The UK has twice staged the Olympics (1908 and 1948); the London marathon is among the world's most important marathons. Some UK events in other sports are also of world importance: for example Wimbledon in tennis and Henley Regatta in rowing.
Motor sports which include rallying, speedway and Formula One are very popular spectator sports.